A House Divided
But oftentimes this is a silly picture of how the Church looks internally. While the temporal affection of a sports team may not be foundationally divisive for a family, there are areas of the Church which are divided based on things as temporal as chatter. Let me tell you - I get it. I understand that people like to talk, because I'm a talker. I like to chit-chat about everything from how sunny it is outside to my favorite sports team (see note to the left), but there comes a point when chatter turns divisive without warrant. The Scriptures are very clear about when idle chatter is no longer innocent:
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” -Matthew 12:36-37
With that thought in mind, I wrote the remainder of this post. In as much as it is to the Church, it is even more so written to myself. I need a reminder to speak with grace as much as anyone else, and I am sure my lifelong friends can attest. I hope this resonates with some of you out there as well. Rather than tearing each other apart with our words, let's be a part of a Church of the future that strengthens, encourages, and prays for each other.
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How many times do we question or even verbally belittle someone else's relationship with God because he or she worships in a way that is different than the way we are accustomed to worshipping? Or maybe we belittle someone else's relationship with God because he or she holds different doctrinal beliefs than we do. And if we are honest with ourselves: How many of our own ways of worship and doctrines are truly unique to ourselves? In more blunt terms -- aren't most of our worship habits passed down from generations before us? For example, why do we look down to pray but look up to sing? Aren't both conversations with God? And why do we clasp our hands to pray but open our arms to sing? If our audience is God in both prayer and song, shouldn't our actions be kinda sorta similar? It's tradition...that's fine. But if we ourselves are operating on a lot of tradition and habits, I dare say we really ought not judge someone else's doctrines or worship habits. The truth is:
You don't know...
You don't know someone else's relationship with God. You don't know what God told him or her or if that person is being led by the Spirit. Perhaps God told him to preach with more stories and less verbatim Scripture, because that is in fact how Jesus connected with the people of His time. On the other had, perhaps God told this other pastor to preach the Scriptures more literally, because His congregation is engaged by that type of teaching. You. Don't. Know...how God told that preacher to preach or how God told that worship minister to lead worship.
So here's my advice -- advice I heed as much as I can remember to tame my tongue:
Unless God instructs you to speak against someone else's ministry and doctrine, don't do it.
Growing up in the church as a preacher's kid, I have seen A LOT of those ugly intra-church conflicts exposed without any charming façades. I have seen fellow church members (brothers and sisters in Christ) wage war against each other for liking different carpet. "Well I just know the Lord (pronounced "Lawd" in the South) would want forest green carpet." "Jesus wasn't clothed in forest green. He obviously wants purple." Which always ends in bitter enmity within the Church. After seeing a few...hundred...conflicts in the church, I am convinced that most of the time it is Satan who is planting a seed of divisiveness - not God - which is a whole 'nother lesson just for free:
When dealing with conflict, ask yourself it this is God-bred or Satan-bred.
That alone could disarm the bomb and allow for unity and peace to re-enter the relationship.
Back to my original advice: if God really does tell you that someone is wrong, ask Him (God--just so we are clear) if you are supposed to call out your brother/sister on the matter, or if you are to pray that he/she sees the truth. Be ready for God's answer and be encouraged to walk in obedience.
"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." -Romans 16:17-18
With love, PriskaTabitha